One of the best thing about attending handmade markets is that you really never know the gems you’ll find. Imagine, a seemingly “easy” skill can transform ordinary objects into exquisitely intricate pieces. (I.e. a skein of yarn can be engineered into a plush or a luxurious throw depending on the way you work with it!)
After hanging out at enough of said markets, I’ve grown to really appreciate the time, effort, and passion that each individual maker invest into their products. Without a doubt, this has to do with the fact that I am a small shop owner myself and am regularly pour in countless hours on creating amigurumi plushes for my own customers. That being said though, owning an Etsy shop versus doing a handmade market show is a completely different story.
Being a vendor at handmade markets, to me, was exhausting.
Don’t get me wrong, the two times I was a vendor was fun, but the preparation part was definitely not what I had anticipated. I found myself extracting hours, minutes, and seconds from my already-busy life into what was supposed to be a relaxing hobby. Ironically, this turned out to be one of the more stressful events I experienced. After being a vendor twice, I decided to stick with selling online.
Although I cannot really count myself as a “craft fair veteran”, I certainly feel that there are many aspects I can relate to when I chat with those who are actively involved with handmade fairs. Today, I want to talk about some of the basic etiquette shoppers should keep in mind when attending these. markets.
Vendors are human beings. First of all, just a friendly reminder that the person who is greeting you at the stall of any handmade markets is probably the person who made whatever items you are looking at! Let that sink in a little…
Please do not mishandle products. Its okay to look and handle products, makers probably love it when you feel their items in your hands and see for yourself how amazing they are. However, please keep personal hygiene in mind. The next buyer does not need bits of your saliva or sweat on their item. Delicate objects should also be kept away from children. Trust me, we love seeing their eyes glimmer with excitement, but babies and toddlers will want to put the world in their mouths, so unless you are definitely buying the item(s), please refrain from letting your little ones grab onto it(them).
Think again if you were going to ask for discounts. You’d be surprised how many people do this! I’ve had someone who quietly asked for a 50% discount if she buys “more”. It was such an awkward situation in which I had to politely decline while explaining why. If a plush takes me 4 hours to make, I simply cannot sell it at $25. In fact, a lot of makers actually underpay themselves! Just because something is handmade doesn’t mean it isn’t worth anything.
If you have to whisper, maybe keep the conversation to yourself. As a frequent handmade market visiter, the number of times I’ve heard someone say “you can make this yourself” is astonishing. Is it only me or do is that kinda rude? Sure, with the right amount of tools, time, and skills, anyone can make anything. We aren’t building a space rocket here, but it makes me wonder why you would attend a handmade market when this is how you feel? Even if you were “dragged” to one, some thoughts are better kept outside the market. We all have ears and we can hear. The owner of the shop is less then 1 feet away from you. Just keep it down.
Close up, 360 degree photos: Whoaaaa, one or two photos are fine, but multiple closeup photos of different angles of the same product? We all know whats going on there. I actually witnessed this as a shopper once. Someone was taking tons of photos of a knitted scarf (it was gorgeous, btw) and I can tell the vendor was not very impressed by this (she was helping someone else at that point and wasn’t able to say much). I quietly informed that shopper that its generally not a very good idea since she was clearly not going to make a purchase. Turns out she, indeed, was going to have her niece make a replica! Thankfully, the situation did not turn sour and the lady quickly put away her phone.
Okay then, what the heck DO I do at markets?!
PLENTY of things!
Chat with vendors! Ask them about their process, what inspires them…ask about their pieces! The best thing about handmade markets is that you are connecting directly with the person who created the items in front of you. Most of the time, vendors like to share stories. If you do come across someone who don’t seem very engaging or seem disconnect, don’t take that personally. They are likely lacking tons of sleep and are just overall tired. (Even smiling all day can be extremely tiring!)
Take your time. This is supposed to be a fun and interactive event. Don’t feel stressed out because the owner is right in front of you. After all, there is such a thing as admiration even if you don’t buy.
Post photos on social media. Definitely do it and tag the maker! We LOVE seeing your haul and that you’re happy with our purchase! Its hectic during markets and vendors probably rarely get to visit other shops. Your photos will likely introduce us to more makers!
(If available) try the food trucks. They’re not available at every markets, but if you come across some, do give them a try!
Lastly, do not feel forced to make purchases. Some people are very ambitious in selling their products. For me, I was more laid back and chill. If you are interested in what I made, great! If not, thank you for browsing! I obviously cannot speak on behalf of everyone, but I do think you should not be pressured to buy. The most exciting thing that happened to me was someone coming in early in the morning and returning just before the end of the day to get something because she simply “must have him”! (It was Cuddles, btw).
The points above are purely subjective and I do not speak on behalf of any specific handmade artists. I was motivated to write this simply because I often see vendors looking uncomfortable at the way their items are handled or overhearing conversations that are not very friendly. Being respectful and considerate is always very important and this extends beyond handmade markets. If you don’t like something, just walk away! If you must vent about it, do it somewhere else! There is no need to ruin someone else’s day 🙂
With that, I hope you’ll all have fun at your next handmade market! 😉
P.S Here are some photos of my fav buys. There are lots more but I haven’t been able to find my photos ~____~
Mini Crossbody Bag by Itchyichi
Bird charm bracelet by BethandOliviaJewlry
Cat Enamal Pin by My Cat Is People
Hand-drawn fox wooden necklace by iamabird
Lemon Coconut Squares by The Lemon Square
Postcard art print by Kristian Adam
Laser Cut Geometric Bear Pin and Hand-painted Necklace by Birch Street Studio
Sticker and Gift tag prints by TripleStudio
Card Prints by ArtandSoulCreativeCo
Donut Teether and Plush Bamboo Quilt by LouLouLollipop
Enamel Pins by iamabird
Printed cards and enamel pins by My Cat Is People
Hand-stamped and hand-sewn pouch by Itchyichi
Resin Kitty Earrings by FancyPop
Cute Tomato plush by CASE Boutique
More card prints by ArtandSoulCreativeCo
Knotted Keychain by MakeMoreHappy
Amethyst Cacti Planter by kootanacrystals
Bamboo wood earrings by Cabin and Cub